Mali, a former French colony, had long been considered a model for democracy, but that all changed last year in March. Soldiers angry about the government’s handling of a rebellion in the northern desert overthrew the country’s elected government during a coup in Bamako, the country’s capital. Since then, Mali has suffered political unrest, pushing the country to ask for help from the French government early this year. Even though the French have helped Mali’s government regain some control in the northern part of the country, conflict is far from over. According to the United Nations, fighting has displaced more than 430,000 people in the past 13 months in addition to countless reports of rape and human rights violations. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Associate Professor of History at Columbia University Gregory Mann about what has happened in Mali, what lies ahead and what role the US should play moving forward.
During this hour on Focus, we’ll start by looking at history through the lens of a comic book. Amateur historian, artist and Associate Professor of New Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Kevin Hamilton has just published the comic titled, “A Place in Time, Two Paths to a Television Broadcast.” It chronicles a national television broadcast by Public Broadcasting Lab, the show that later turned into 60 Minutes, which originated in Urbana in 1968. He'll join us to talk about the comic book, what inspired it and why he thinks chronicling events like it give us unique perspective.
Timothy Cain who co-directs the UIUC’s Ethnography of the University Initiative, also joins the conversation. He’ll tell us about the project, how it archives hundreds of research projects every year and provides undergraduates the chance to research university history. We’ll talk about research that has uncovered facts about student sub-cultures and their influence on campus and community life and how displaying history can work to influence a sense of community. Barb Garvey, Assistant Director of the Museum of the Grand Prairie, also joins the conversation to talk about other local history projects and why they’re important.
During this hour on Focus, we talk with Professor Miriam Cooke about how she got started studying Muslim women and their writing and why their writings are important. She talks with us about women who inspired the feminist movement in the Middle East and why it became important during the 1990’s. Cooke is a Professor of Arab Cultures at Duke University and the Director of the University’s Middle East Studies Center. She’s been a visiting professor in Tunisia, Romania, Indonesia, and Qatar and is one of the foremost scholars on Islamic Feminism and Arab Culture.
Then during the second half of the hour, we talk with Mariam Sobh. She’s the founder and editor-in-chief of Hijab Trendz, a fashion blog for Muslim women. Host Jim Meadows talks with Sobh about her decision to cover her hair, what it means and how some Muslim women are choosing not to.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with John Breen, Tax Director at McGladrey LLP and Marty Verdick, Tax Partner at McGladrey LLP about the so-called fiscal cliff package that was passed in January and how it affects your bottom line. He also asks about the new Medicare surtax for 2013, which tax software to use when preparing your taxes on your own and when it’s a good idea to hire a tax preparer. Also in this episode of Focus – how to choose the best tax preparer for your needs, what questions to ask and the gray areas in the tax code. We also talk about new forms this year for same-sex couples in civil unions.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in more than 600 years and cites health reasons for his decision to do so. This hour on Focus, we talk about how that will affect the Roman Catholic Church and the process and politics involved with conclave. Host Jim Meadows talks with Associate Professor of History and Catholic Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago Kevin Schultz about what the Pope’s resignation means for members of the Roman Catholic Church and for the rest of us. We also talk about the church’s declining membership and what leaders are trying to do to reverse the trend and how the Pope plays a role in that. Tom Roberts, Editor at Large for the National Catholic Reporter, also joins the program. During this hour we also discussed contraception, same sex marriage and child sex abuse scandals and how the Roman Catholic Church will more forward.
Has Rick Steves inspiried you to travel? Maybe you've long used his guide books... During this episode of Focus, Jim Meadows talks with travel writer and broadcaster Rick Steves about his life and career. We ask him about best practices when planning a trip and the best places to go for the first time and the veteran traveler. Steves also tells us his favorite places to visit and why he first started traveling. And of course, we find out more about his next adventure and his upcoming visit to Champaign-Urbana.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise and President Robert Easter. We asked them about the sequester and how it would affect the University and research efforts on campus, how the state's budget issues are affecting the university and if the UIUC will be getting a new mascot.
We also want you to have the opportunity to interact directly with your leaders. Do you have questions for President Easter or Chancellor Wise? If we didn't get to them today, post to our Facebook page, tweet us @Focus580 or post in the comments section below. We'll be talking with the President and Chancellor again on Focus.
During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with author David Toomey about his new book, “Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different From Our Own.” He tells us about organisms that live off acid rather than water, those that reproduce without DNA and thrive in temperatures and pressures so extreme that they really shouldn’t be alive in the first place. Meadows also talked with Toomey about our fascination with exotic life forms here on Earth and why we’re so fascinated with the possibility of the discovery of life in the rest of the universe.
Senior reporter Jim Meadows will become Focus’ new interim program host starting Monday, February 25. Current host and News and Public Affairs Director Craig Cohen is leaving Illinois Public Media/WILL for Houston Public Media.
Meadows says he’s excited to have the opportunity to host Focus and is looking forward to being part of program’s rich legacy. He’s been with WILL since 2000 working as a reporter, newscaster and local host for Morning Edition, and has also been a substitute host for Focus several times.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
During this episode of Focus, we talked about film and its role in public discourse. Host Craig Cohen talks with Ben Kenigsberg, Film Section Editor for Time Out Chicago, and Richard Leskosky, an Associate Professor (retired) of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about this year’s Academy Award nominees and the political statements they make. We discussed waterboarding and the capture of Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty, mental health issues raised in Silver Linings Playbook and the different depictions of slavery in Lincoln and Django Unchained. We also asked whether it’s a conflict of interest in Argo wins best picture; after all, it is a picture about how Hollywood came to the rescue...